Outdoor Space

Brownsea Island, Poole

The birthplace of the Scouting and Guides movement in 1907, these days Brownsea Island is open to the public and accessible by boats running from Poole Quay and Sandbanks. A really family-friendly day out, visitors of all ages will appreciate the island’s inherent charm.

For a fleeting escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Brownsea Island transports you to a world far from city life. With a brackish lagoon, freshwater lakes, thick woodland, saltmarsh and more, the island is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and offers boundless opportunities to watch the captivating wildlife that calls the island home.

Under the protective wing of the National Trust, some of Brownsea Island’s permanent residents attract special interest. Small, agile and particularly handsome, the island’s indigenous red squirrel population are a real treat to see. With a flash of red through the trees, eagle-eyed visitors can spot these delightful creatures happily going about their business in one of their few remaining natural habitats in England.

It’s not just squirrels who can be seen across the island, though. Huge numbers of bird species can be spotted from woodpeckers to oystercatchers, as well as lizards, sika deer and bats. Pack your binoculars and sit for a while, who knows what you may see.

For a day packed with lots of adventure, Brownsea Island has lots of different trails to be explored on foot. Weaving in and out, the trails showcase the island’s varied habitats and jaw-dropping aesthetics. If you find yourself on South Shore, make sure you head to one of the viewpoints above the beach where you can take in gorgeous views of Old Harry Rocks and the Purbeck Hills.

The island puts on lots of family-friendly activities and events and offers plenty of educational opportunities for children. Since 1964 the Brownsea Open Air Theatre has been hosted annually, and there is also a visitor centre and museum where you can learn all about the island’s history. Once you’ve had your fill of exploring for the day, pay a visit to the Villano café, where you can enjoy delicious seasonal meals with a beautiful backdrop of Poole Harbour.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Dorset here.

Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Poole, Dorset, BH13 7EE | 01202 707744 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island

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